Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Operational Stability and the Supply Chain

Operational stability is being touted as the missing ingredient in many attempts to implement lean and one piece flow production systems- and rightfully so. In general, operational stability equates to capable and reliable processes and equipment. Many organizations blindly attempt to create one piece flow cells and pull systems in their own factories without having achieved operational stability. This is often a recipe for failure.

What about creating a lean supply chain? Where does operational stability fit in? In fact, it is even more relevant to the supply chain. The supply chain often includes several manufacturing entities. When each of these entities does not have stability, the result is often waste in the form of:
  • Parts shortages
  • Poor quality
  • Over-ordering
  • Excess Inventory
  • Long lead time

Part of implementing lean within a factory is to achieve a reasonable level of reliability and capability in processes and equipment. When implementing a lean supply chain, you must:

  1. Use extended value stream mapping to identify areas where unreliable processes and equipment negatively effect the efficiency of the value stream.
  2. Find suppliers with capable and reliable processes using a sound supplier evaluation process.
  3. Work with existing suppliers to achieve capable and reliable processes using the tools of process kaizen such as standardized work, total productive maintenance, 5S, and quick changeover.
  4. Use a supplier association (as described in Improving the Extended Value Stream) to maintain operational stability within your supply chain.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with operational stability both within your own factory environment and those of your suppliers/customers.

1 comment:

Chris Jacob Abraham said...

Hi Darren
I thought that I'd send you a link to my blog related to Supply Chain
Management issues and views at: http://at-scm.blogspot.com. It would be
nice to get a link to my blog from yours as well.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Chris J Abraham